Friday, November 22

Dan Brown's AMA on

Dan Brown's AMA on

I'm going to do something different today. Instead of continuing with my series on Lester Dent's Master Short Story Formula, I'm going to post the highlights--what I think are the highlights--of Dan Brown's AMA.

Naturally, since this is a blog about writing, that's what I've focused on. 

Dan Brown's AMA on Reddit

What follows are direct quotations. I have, occasionally, broken text up into paragraphs so it will flow better, but I haven't altered the content. Whenever you see "..." in the text, below, it occurred in the original.

Throckmorton_Left asked:
Your work receives a lot of criticism from the world of literary "experts," and yet is incredibly well-received in the marketplace. Ignoring both your critics and your financial success, what has been the most rewarding aspect of your career as a writer?

Dan Brown:
People for whom creativity is a profession have little choice but to take their critics lightly. The alternative is to care deeply what people think… and, in doing so, lose all spontaneity and creativity.

As crazy as this may sound, I would much prefer to write a book that sparks passionate reaction (even a negative one) than to write a book that evokes apathy or indifference.

Yes, I wish everyone loved the books I write, but that’s not how it works for me… or any author, for that matter. When you’re a creative person—whether a writer, a painter, or a composer—all you have to guide the process is your own taste. You create the novel/painting/symphony that you yourself like, and then you pray like hell that someone shares your taste. Those who do are fans…and those who don’t are your critics.

As for the aspect of success that is most rewarding to me…it is the luxury of engaging in the creative process every day as a job. I learned long ago that if I’m not actively creating something, I’m not happy.

Philbo1985 asked:
George R.R. Martin stated he feels here are two different types of writers, the architects and the gardeners, do you believe this to be true? If so which type are you?

Dan Brown:
I've never heard that said, but I'm a huge Martin fan, so I guess I owe you an answer. I'm an architect, without a doubt, even though so many ask me to garden more.

JohnAnderton asked:
What is your advice to aspiring authors?

Dan Brown:
Choose a topic about which you feel conflicted. That way, you will be able to argue both sides of the equation. Gray is always more interesting than black and white.

Another great one-liner:
Create something and throw it out before anyone can see it. Repeat the process until you create something that you can't bear to throw out.

PolkadotPink asked:
What are your views on religion? Are they the same as Robert Langdon's?

Dan Brown:
I believe that both religion and conspiracy theory stem from the same human need to believe that life is not random...that is, our need to feel like someone is driving the bus.

The idea that everything is random is a terrifying thought for most people, and when bad things happen, we prefer to believe that it was either "part of God's plan" or that the Illuminati did it.

Again, these words of writerly wisdom were taken from Dan Brown's AMA.

6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You A Better Person

Or not. Whether they're truths I'll leave to you to judge.
In the course of reading Dan Brown's AMA, I can across this link: 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person. (Thanks to ratolibre1 for recommending it.)

6 Harsh Truths was written by bestselling author David Wong (/Jason Pargin) and is guaranteed to offend everyone who reads it, but probably for different reasons. And it's riddled with NSFW language. That said, he writes this toward the end of the article:
[M]isery is comfortable. It's why so many people prefer it. Happiness takes effort.

Also, courage. It's incredibly comforting to know that as long as you don't create anything in your life, then nobody can attack the thing you created.

It's so much easier to just sit back and criticize other people's creations. This movie is stupid. That couple's kids are brats. That other couple's relationship is a mess. That rich guy is shallow. This restaurant sucks. This Internet writer is an asshole. I'd better leave a mean comment demanding that the website fire him. See, I created something.

Oh, wait, did I forget to mention that part? Yeah, whatever you try to build or create -- be it a poem, or a new skill, or a new relationship -- you will find yourself immediately surrounded by non-creators who trash it. Maybe not to your face, but they'll do it. Your drunk friends do not want you to get sober. Your fat friends do not want you to start a fitness regimen. Your jobless friends do not want to see you embark on a career.

Just remember, they're only expressing their own fear, since trashing other people's work is another excuse to do nothing. "Why should I create anything when the things other people create suck? I would totally have written a novel by now, but I'm going to wait for something good, I don't want to write the next Twilight!" As long as they never produce anything, it will forever be perfect and beyond reproach. Or if they do produce something, they'll make sure they do it with detached irony. They'll make it intentionally bad to make it clear to everyone else that this isn't their real effort. Their real effort would have been amazing. Not like the shit you made.
That I believe. It expresses something I've felt for a long time about many of the criticisms leveled against creative efforts.

Writing this post lightened my spirits. While the feeling sticks I'm going to rush off and continue work on the first draft of my WIP. Cheers!

Photo credit: "Grungy-Furry" by Karen Woodward under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

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